Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. — 1 Thessalonians 5:11
I have a friend who recently participated in a five-mile mud run. Now, this is not one of those “I have a friend who” stories that is meant to mask the fact that I’m secretly refer- ring to me. Honestly, just that first sentence tells you pretty much everything you need to know about why such an event holds no appeal for me. Three words (or four, depending on how you count the hyphen): Five-mile. Mud. Run.
I listened as he described the obstacle course: miles of running over muddy terrain (that’s the obvious part), scaling walls, climbing ropes, dragging boulders, heaving sandbags, crawling under barbed-wire fencing, and jumping over a fiery pit at the finish line. All that for a pretty cool medal and a free banana.
It wasn’t necessarily a stretch for me to picture my friend running this race I know him well: He’s a pretty active guy and in reasonably good shape. He’s fairly athletic, and he’s very competitive. My surprise registered only when he told me he had completed the race right alongside his wife I also know her well: While he is competitive, she is contented. Where he would enjoy taking a risk, she would prefer going on a retreat. He spent four to five days a week training at the gym; she spent forty-five dollars on her race outfit. She would not have even signed up without his gentle insistence; and she admitted that she could not have finished without his strong assistance. Along with two other married couples, they had run this rugged race and crossed the finish line together.
It occurred to me that maybe that was the whole point of the race. To compete together. To strive together. To celebrate together. And maybe that’s the point of our journey too. The writer of Ecclesiastes wisely recognizes that “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
We were meant to run life’s race together.
- To encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
- To pray for one another (James 5:16)
- To challenge and sharpen each other (Proverbs 27:17)
- To share others’ burdens and meet their needs (Galatians 6:2)
- To suffer together and to rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12:26)
The race can get long; obstacles will certainly come. So
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus. — Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis added
Pursuing Jesus is always better together.
Who are the people in your life running alongside you? How do they encourage you or build you up? Who are you pouring your life into, cheering them on along the way? Write down some names, and thank God for your faith community. Consider writing a note of thanks or encouragement to someone on your list. If you find it hard to think of names, begin praying that God would lead you to some life-giving relationships.
Excerpted with permission from Not a Fan Devotional by Kyle Idleman, copyright Kyle Idleman.
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Maybe, like many of us, you’re ending the year feeling a little lonely. None of us is meant to lone-wolf the Christian life. We’re meant to strengthen one another and do life together. As the New Year approaches, let’s pray for some great friendships and reach out to new people to build them with! Who can you reach out to today? Pick someone you admire spiritually but don’t necessarily know very well yet and pick up the phone! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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